By The Rev. Ron Purkey
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabited eternity, whose name is Holy; ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’” (Isaiah 57:15)
The scripture speaks of the great and mighty God in time. He inhabits eternity. Language staggers under the weight of the magnitude of the burden laid upon it. God dwelt in eternity in the eons and ages before creation, and will dwell in the great consummation of the eons that are yet to come. He is ageless and unchanging.
Deterioration (Isaiah 57:1–2). When God wants to judge his people, he sometimes takes the godly leaders away; they are spared the pain of seeing their nation deteriorate and then go into judgment (Isaiah 57:1–2; 3:1–5). Do you appreciate the men and women God has given to provide spiritual leadership, and do you encourage them?
Condemnation (Isaiah 57:3–13). This description of the godless society in Judah seems quite contemporary. God denounced them for lying, worshiping idols, indulging in sexual sins, sacrificing their children and mocking the godly. These people had no fear of God because he did not immediately send judgment, but their day was coming.
Dedication (Isaiah 57:14–21). Even in a godless society, here and there are dedicated people who have fellowship with God. God longs to dwell with his people (John 14:21–24), and he will if they are humble and repentant (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 66:2). Does God “feel at home” in your heart (Ephesians 3:14–21)?
In Isaiah’s day God had a word of encouragement for the faithful. A highway would be built and the obstacles removed, so the exiles might return to the land and serve the Lord (see Isaiah 11:16.). God will dwell with his people because they are humble in spirit. (See Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 34:18; 51:17.)
Pride is a sin that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-17) and that God resists (1 Peter 5:5-6). God was “enraged” by Israel’s “sinful greed” and repeatedly chastened them for it, but they would not change (Isaiah 57:17). How often he had “taken them to court” and proved them guilty, yet they would not submit. But now that was over. The time had come for God to deal with them, guide them and comfort them.
The tall, graceful former Sears Building is located in Chicago. It was for many years the highest man-made structure in the world, towering a quarter of a mile high above the streets of the city. The thickness of a nickel placed on top of that vast building would be relative to the age of humanity, compared to the age of creation itself. Yet creation is but a small part of the eternity before creation and the eternity that shall follow after creation. In all of the ageless eons, God dwells.
Read Ron Purkey’s Bible study outlines free at rcpbibleoutlines.com. Purkey has been an ordained Baptist minister for 50 years.